Running on the assumption that, as a college student, you are not independently wealthy, you are probably feeling the pinch as your tuition bill comes due. For the 18.5 percent of the student body who qualify as non-residents, that pinch may feel more like armed robbery. The residency policy for the Oregon University System, found at www.pdx.edu/admissions/grad_residency.html, is strict. In simple terms, you are only considered a resident if you are financially independent, have lived in Oregon for 12 months and were not enrolled in school for more than eight credits during those months.
Running on the assumption that, as a college student, you are not independently wealthy, you are probably feeling the pinch as your tuition bill comes due. For the 18.5 percent of the student body who qualify as non-residents, that pinch may feel more like armed robbery.
The residency policy for the Oregon University System, found at www.pdx.edu/admissions/grad_residency.html, is strict. In simple terms, you are only considered a resident if you are financially independent, have lived in Oregon for 12 months and were not enrolled in school for more than eight credits during those months.
If you are financially dependent, your guardian must qualify as a resident. You can also qualify for residency if you are in the armed services and have been assigned to duty and living in Oregon or if you are a member of a recognized Native American tribe in Oregon.
Once you have made the hideous error of enrolling for more than eight credits before you fulfill these requirements, you cannot be considered for residency, ever. Period.
The price difference between resident and non-resident tuition is astronomical. For the standard 12-credit course load, a resident pays approximately $1,722, while a non-resident will pay $5,106! For those of you without a calculator, that is a difference of $3,384!
The explanation for this gap is listed on the Portland State Web site as follows–“Non-resident students are assessed a higher level of instructional fees that more closely approximates the actual cost of instruction.”
Keep in mind that the instructors have only recently resolved a strike for fair pay, and that the school does not supply us with any materials for courses, such as books. We pay for those out of pocket, unlike elementary and secondary education institutions. What exactly is this “actual cost,” and why is it so high?
Attempts were made to collect information on these questions, but Vice President for Finance and Administration Lindsay Desrochers’ office did not comment by press time on the actual cost, where our tuition money is spent and their stance on the fight for tuition equity.
These stringent, even anal, guidelines and the heavy cost involved affects a large number of students. Not only are out-of-state students bled dry, but also some who have lived in Oregon for most of their lives are affected. Are you dependent on your parents’ income? If your parents are not considered Oregon residents, neither are you. Even if you graduated from an Oregon high school!
Now, I’m not saying that residents shouldn’t get a good deal on tuition. It is an excellent way for schools to retain their home population. What isn’t necessary is gouging non-residents so badly that they can scarcely afford to attend a university in Oregon.
Even adopting a policy that allows non-residents to attain residency while attending school would be more reasonable. It also makes sense from a marketing and business sense–bring more students in, and encourage them to attend right away. It adds diversity and numbers to the school populous. The policy to charge non-residents such exorbitant tuition is like a reverse welcome mat.
Is there a light at the end of this tunnel?
“Tuition Equity is a policy that the ASPSU will continue to champion until the Oregon Legislature does the right thing by passing it,” says Monique Petersen, Chief of Staff for the ASPSU. “There are many legislators dedicated to this policy and thousands of students who have been lobbying for its passage for the past three legislative sessions. Oregon is constitutionally mandated to provide K-12 education for all students regardless of documentation status, but we are keeping some of our best and brightest out of higher education because the current structure for non-resident tuition is not fair. By denying young Oregonians the ability to access schools such as PSU, we’re preventing our state from moving forward.”
Even if you are a resident of Oregon, and being charged resident fees, the fact is this unexplained cost difference comes across as greed and a method to deter non-resident students from attending an Oregon university. So stay tuned, stay involved and speak up against the pillaging of our pocketbooks!